But one has to pay the bills, and the Dogs Need to Go Outside and the Cats Must Be Fed. And so it goes most weekday mornings as I convince myself I don't have to turn on the lights. Because I shouldn't have to do that in the morning. I just shouldn't. And if I squint the right way, I can see enough through the limpid dark to get to the kitchen. Only then do I allow myself to flip a switch; since I'm turning the lights on in just one room, it somehow feels a little more acceptable to my sleep-deprived brain.
Which is why, in the moment before my fingers reached out to shed some light on my morning, I didn't see it. And I stepped in it.
Nothing like putting a bare and vulnerable foot into something wet and slippery and unseen to stop you cold. If you have pets, you'll understand the list of possibilities that flashed through my head at that frozen moment.
I slapped the light on.
And looked down.
The lifeless body lay limply on my kitchen floor. The tail thrown at an awkward angle. Eyes black and sightless as felt. Pink ears darkened and sagging. Fur wet, matted...and blue.
It took me a moment to register the death of a cat toy--a once vibrant blue fake-fur Mousie.
While my husband and I and the dogs had slept blissfully unaware--well, maybe not blissfully, but definitely unaware--a tiny kitty plaything was being drenched and ruined.
I had walked into a crime scene, literally, as I was still standing in a splash of water, a few inches away from the victim.
|The Victim: Blue Mousie|
But right now, I had business to attend to, as Jasper, Lilah and Tucker reminded me, scampering to the back door in anticipation of their morning constitutional.
Leaving the scene undisturbed, I took the dogs outside, set them to their business and returned, to begin the slow, painstaking work of solving the Mystery of the Drowned Mousie. That was my theory, at least; death by waterbowl. Anyway, with the dogs outside, it would be a little easier to look for clues without a dozen large paws muddying the evidence.
I removed the body and placed it by a heating vent, in the hope that it would dry out enough to still be a viable kitty amusement. Other than the splashes of water and the proximity to the bowl, there were no other hints of the culprit or the act; whoever he or she was had not left behind any telling details.
I brought the dogs in and began the daily breakfast routine, feeding the cats first, then the dogs. As the kitties chowed down, I looked at the fe-line up and pondered which of them had done in the Mousie.
|The Line Up|
Jasper, Lilah and Tucker, of course, had perfect alibis; they were with my husband and I all night, in our bedroom with the door closed. And since I was the last human to bed, I knew first-hand there were no bodies in the kitchen before I headed upstairs.
I decided to interrogate the cats that night, after I got home from work. I interviewed them one at a time, away from each other, in case Someone was in cat cahoots with Someone Else.
"Does this look familiar?" I asked each cat, holding up the now-dried but somewhat scraggly blue fur toy by the tail. I was hoping to catch the killer off guard and reveal a guilty look.
|Dawn, the Queen|
|Athena, the Master Mind|
|Calvin, Stupendous Cat|
|Elsa Clair, Smart 'n' Sweet|
The results were somewhat predictable.
Each cat in turn looked adorable, swatted at the toy and then chased it when I tossed it across the floor.
Note to self: Cats Don't Do Guilt.
With no clues, no additional evidence, no confessions and no witnesses, my case had reached a dead end rather quickly. I was stumped and it looked like our mystery would never be solved.
Maybe, though, I was looking at it wrong. It could have been an accident. Perhaps someone had inadvertently knocked the Mousie in the waterbowl from atop the buffet. Instead I should be looking for the hero who fished it out.
The story could have ended right there. I had started to think I had an anonymous cat crusader, rescuing helpless toys from the terror of the deep water dish. I began to look at my cats with pride, knowing one of them had seen a wrong and righted it.
But sometimes evildoers get hooked on the evil that they do. And mischief makers want to make more mischief. And thus it was when I came downstairs a few days later to find another victim.
This time it was pink.
|Victim #2: Pink Mousie|
Once again, the sad, soggy fake-furry creature lay in a puddle of water. Once again, the absence of clues was maddening. And once again, the cats maintained their innocence.
Over the next several days, I would find myself looking at the bewhiskered suspects. "Which of you is it? Which of you during the darkest hours of the night finds it a satisfying to dunk a Mousie?"
I couldn't helping thinking as I looked into those enigmatic eyes above cute pink noses. Someone is Hiding Something.
Okay, well, Someone Hides Something nearly every day, as I discover cat toys under pillows, tucked in couch cushions and mixed in with the laundry. But this was different.
Deep inside, I feared that one of them had become a serial dunker.
And it would be only a matter of time before another Mousie got dunked.
Will the kitty culprit strike again?
Will I have to buy more Mousies?
Will we ever know whodunit?
Read my next post to find out.